It's 2018 and the UK is just now getting its first black female history professor?Historians in the News
tags: UK, Olivette Otele
A woman who studies the slave trade might be expected to think a lot about violence. Indeed, one popular way to conceptualize history as a whole is as a series of bloody encounters from which only a few emerged unscathed to then write the books about it.
But Olivette Otele, who this week became the first black woman professor of history in the UK, has taken some much more positive messages from her field of study. Otele, who has Cameroonian heritage (she speaks three of that country’s languages as well as English and French) and took her first degree at the Sorbonne university in Paris, told History Today that the most important lesson history had taught her was kindness.
“We exist because many before us have survived hardship and have chosen to share their space, resources and stories,” Otele said. As a scholar, the discipline had also taught her humility, she added. “We very rarely discover anything, but reinterpret and add to palimpsests.”
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